Rebirth [부활]
Submitted by mj07 on Tuesday, May 30, 2006 – 5:41pm

Uhm Tae-Woong, Han Ji-Min, So Yi-Hyun, Go Ju-Won, Kang Shin-Il
Directed by:
Jeon Chang-Geun, Park Chan-Hong
Written by:
Kim Jee-Woo
Dates Airing:
01 June 2005 till 18 August 2005
Official Websites:
[Korean] [English]
Related links:
Soompi’s Resurrection/Rebirth Thread
Global YesAsia

Cast Details
Uhm Tae-Woong (Sassy Girl ChoonHyang, Silmido, Public Enemy 2),
Han Ji-Min (Dae Jang Geum, Great Inheritance)
So Yi-Hyun
Go Ju-Won
Kang Shin-Il (Green Rose, Public Enemy, Silmido)
Kim Kap-Soo (Alone in Love, Emperor of the Sea, She’s on Duty)
Ki Joo-Bong (All In, Save the Green Planet, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance)
Lee Jeong-Gil (Beautiful Days, Lovers in Prague)
Lee Jin-Wook (Alone in Love)

All things turn and turn and come back to their beginning for completion…
The end becomes the beginning. — Seo HaEun
“Rebirth” tells the story of twin brothers separated by tragedy because of the greed of evil men. However, in this outstanding drama/thriller from 2005 Uhm Tae-Woong plays the dual roles of twins Ha-Eun/Gang-Hyuk and Shin-Hyuk in a way we’ve never seen before. Stories about twins, evil twins, twins swapping roles, etc. are a dime a dozen, but “Rebirth” is a true gem.
20 years ago: police detective Yu Geon-Ha and his young son Gang-Hyuk are killed in a car wreck. Made to look like an accident, it was actually orchestrated by several people who wanted to block an investigation he was working on; his son wasn’t supposed to be in the car with him. A traumatized Gang-Hyuk escapes from the car before it explodes, but since no Korean drama would be complete without a character who has amnesia, he is left with total memory loss. Fortunately, the strangers he is left with become a loving adoptive family to him, and he’s reborn as Seo Ha-Eun.
Present day Seoul: Detective Yu’s wife has remarried one of his best friends, and his ‘surviving’ son, Shin-Hyuk, is now Vice President of his step-dad’s construction company. Since Shin-Hyuk knew his brother had snuck into dad’s car the day it crashed, he’s felt guilty all his life for his death, believing he could have somehow prevented it. Shin-Hyuk is repressed and can’t express his emotions, distant from everyone in his life, most especially his mother. Seemingly cold and unfeeling, he is actually using this facade to hide his unbearable pain. Meanwhile, Ha-Eun has grown up to become an outstanding police detective, just like his father. In contrast to his younger twin, while Ha-Eun is really happy and cheerful and well liked by all of his colleagues and boss. During the course of investigating a staged suicide he picks up the trail of the same case his dad had been working on at the time he was murdered. He’s as relentless a man as his father was, so to get him out of the way the same people who killed Detective Yu 20 years earlier frame HaEun for attempted murder. While he’s on the run and trying to clear his name he discovers that the original detective on the case was his dad, and that he has a twin brother…
…and that’s all in the first 4 episodes!

Nothing that you would expect to happen in this drama does happen. Rebirth sits at the top of my list of all-time favourite dramas for several reasons. Foremost are the script and the truly outstanding performance from Uhm Tae-Woong in these roles. Apparently scriptwriter Kim Jee-Woo took her inspiration from Alexandre Dumas’ classic novel “The Count of Monte Cristo”. However, in recreating this tale of revenge she fashioned a remarkable, complex, intricate and powerful story all her own. Lately it seems almost impossible to find a writer who commands such an ability to do the unexpected and to avoid cliché. Like an onion, each layer is peeled away and reveals another and another, constantly surprising the viewer and keeping you in suspense; just when you think you know what’s going to happen next, you find out how wrong you are!
Speaking of surprise, many viewers (and critics alike) expressed surprise about Uhm Tae-Woong’s ability to pull out such an amazing, multi-layered performance. For me, this was the one aspect of “Rebirth” that wasn’t surprising at all! Uhm brought a depth to his supporting character of SaJoon in “Nine Tailed Fox/Forbidden Love” that had already impressed me, as well as his supporting role in the film “Silmido”. In ‘Rebirth’ whether he’s playing HaEun or ShinHyuk you have no problem seeing them as completely different characters. Some actors take on a dual role like this and you are expected to believe their performance just because of a wardrobe change! There’s none of that nonsense here. Ha-Eun and his disregard for how silly he can be, laughs so freely that you laugh along with him. When Shin-Hyuk is angry it’s more than a little frightening. When the two join forces? Well, you’ll have to watch to find out!
In addition to the twins, there’s a truck-load of supporting characters, each so richly drawn that an entire drama could be developed surrounding them. There are two key antagonists, a congressman and an executive, who have gangsters tied to them to do their dirty work (excellent veteran actors Ki Joo-Bong, Kim Kap-Soo and Kim Gyu-Chul). There’s the daughter (newcomer So Yi-Hyun) of the congressman who Shin-Hyuk wants to marry, but she won’t have any of it because he’s such a stick in the mud. She’s also very righteous and yes, she ends up looking into the same 20-year old case Ha-Eun was. There’s Ha-Eun’s adopted family including a “sister” (Han Ji-Min) who he fell in love with at first sight (when they were 7, so cute!) There’s the question of loyalty between friends and family members, crime, mystery, LOADS of suspense, a little humour and of course – a love story. It’s about karma, how the evil men do comes back around to them again, payback, revenge, the possibility of forgiveness, rebirth…
Another factor that makes “Rebirth” superior to most of what we see on television is the high production values. Great care went into the design of ShinHyuk’s bedroom and office in order to make it not only reflect his personality, but to hint at his inner pain and conflict. Each brother has carried a pair of dice since childhood. HaEun’s are one yellow, one blue, the former given him by his brother because he’d lost the other blue one. ShinHyuk’s are both yellow. These dice later play a key role when the brothers meet again as adults. Such attention to detail is rare in a movie, much less a TV series.
Unfortunately, for some reason KBS has called the Director’s Cut box set “Revenge”, which is kind of a misnomer. Retribution is certainly a key part of the story, but more important is the theme of cycles. The Korean title Boo-Hwal literally means “rebirth”. In the first episode GangHyuk is reborn as HaEun. The twins are reborn in a way when they’re reunited after 20 years. Their father is also reborn through them as those responsible for his death are revenged on. Writer Kim didn’t intend to convey a religious message with her story, but it’s interesting how very Buddhist and Christian it is at the same time. Karma. Fate. What you reap you will sow. You can’t escape from the evil acts you commit. Even ‘what goes around comes around’!
Of course, HaEun’s way of saying it is far more elegant: “the end becomes the beginning”.
NOTE: It’s hard to explain why this drama so good without giving a spoiler. It’s a big spoiler, but it also happens in the 4th episode. Most synopses you find at online retailers give it away, but I was taken by surprise, and I think it’s better if you don’t know ahead of time. So, if you decide to read up more on this drama, be forewarned!

Edited by: jiejunwoo